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TANIA Bailey fears her place amongst the world s leading squash players could be jeopardised by a knee operation.

TANIA Bailey fears her place amongst the world s leading squash players could be jeopardised by a knee operation.The world number six from Stamford has struggled with a knee injury since being involved in a car accident on the A1 in February.

Her car was written off in the crash and Bailey was forced to pull out of the British Closed Championships having been seeded number one.

But the 21-year-old, who has not hit a squash ball since last month s British Open, fears she could miss much more if specialists tell her she needs an operation.

"I have been struggling with the knee for about four months, and I am seeing the specialist next week who thinks I might need to have an operation," said Bailey. "I have not had a good season because of the knee injury, but I am pleased to have kept my ranking at number six.

"But I didn t perform as well as I should have done at the British Open, so the pressure is on to perform at the next few tournaments, that is if I am fit to play.

"It is not too bad as my next tournament is not until mid-August, but if I was to have an operation it would be touch and go whether I would be able to play.

"Obviously I d prefer not to have an operation now, but it has been frustrating sitting around not being able to do anything as nobody knows the real problem.

"It happened when I had the car crash, though at the time I thought it was only bruised, but it s got steadily worse.

"The crash was my fault, the car in front of me had hit another car and I went into the back of that. Fortunately it was as we were coming to a roundabout so I was only going 35 mph."

Meanwhile Bailey has welcomed the recent hysteria caused by her close friend Vicky Botwright and her thong.

Botwright caused a storm when she threatened to play in the British Open wearing just a thong and crop top.

Squash s governing body, WISPA, originally banned the skimpy wear which brought Botwright s bot to the attention of the national media.

But they have now made a u-turn leaving the road clear for the world s top squash players to dress down.

"I m quite happy with what I wear now so I won t be going on court in a thong," said Bailey. "I am close friends with Vicky so I knew what was going on and I told her to do what she was comfortable with and make her own mind up.

"It has certainly helped to give squash a wider audience by taking it off the sports pages.

"People might think that people will only be watching squash to look at our bodies, but as long as there are big crowds watching, it doesn t bother me why they are there or what they re looking at.

"It has happened in tennis for many years, there are loads of pictures around of Anna Kournikova in a bra, so why shouldn t Vicky wear a thong.

"You just won t catch me wearing one."